By Benito Vila
It’s hard to tell who was more delighted by the outcome of the Lady Whalers 3-1 win over Riverhead on Monday, Shannon Judge, the team’s current coach, or Debbie Jayne, who initiated the program and led Pierson to 15 county and regional titles over a 33-year career.
Reached just after sunset here on Monday, Coach Jayne had already been online in Arizona and knew the team had won for the fourteenth time this fall. “So I bet you’re calling me to see if 14-2 is the best record ever,” said the legendary coach. “I think it is. We were 12-5 overall the year we went to the state final in 1998 and 13-4-1 in 2003.”
Coach Judge is working on keeping her girls focused on what’s to come. A 4 p.m. November 1 Class C title game against Port Jefferson on the turf at Patchogue-Medford will likely be confirmed today or tomorrow. When it was suggested to Coach Judge that she might remember this team thirty years from now, she lightheartedly mused, “That’d be cool. 12-2 in league and 14-2 overall; they’re worthy.”
Both coaches acknowledged speaking recently, Coach Judge reporting, “Debbie said to keep what we’re doing.” Coach Jayne had no advice to give Monday, recognizing “Every team is different and it’s easy to see Shannon has a good sense of the pulse of this one. There are a lot of field hockey alumni rooting for them. And we’re all very proud.”
Coach Judge plans on “practicing a lot, getting some conditioning in and working on things that we need to do better.” She will also be looking to get workout time on local turf fields so that the team becomes more accustomed to that surface, which is common amongst tournament sites.
The Last Two Wins
Win number 13 came at the expense of William Floyd in Mashashimuet Park last Thursday, the season’s final home match concluding as a 2-0 shutout. A pre-game ceremony saw senior captains Samanthe Federico, Mariah Marienfeld and Anna Verneuille and classmates Megan Pintauro and Dena Silver honored.
Despite the fanfare, it was the underclassmen that came away with the points. Sophomore Lindsay Warne put Pierson up 1-0 in the first half and her classmate Sarah Barrett scored in the second half. Junior Nicole Dorego and sophomore Alexa Lantiere recorded the assists.
Coach Judge described the win as, “Nothing too exciting. We moved the ball up and down as a unit. We worked well together and kept them from creating opportunities.”
Record-setting number 14 came in Riverhead Monday, a pair of Warne goals in the second-half giving the girls the 3-1 win. Dorego scored in the first half and recorded an assist in the second. Lantiere added an assist, as did junior Abby Gawronski.
Coach Judge praised Riverhead’s play, noting, “They have a lot of speed and set up several fast breaks. We were able to keep them out and get ours in. Once Lindsay gets the ball on the right side, we’re always a threat.”
Warne is tied for the county lead in assists with 12 and is eighth in points (goals plus assists) with 20. Federico set a new school record for goals this season with 16 and is third in the county in goals scored.
When asked who emerged as a team leader this year, Coach Judge responded by saying, “Our captains were key in keeping everyone focused, and we have a lot of self-starters. What I saw was Lindsay, Alexa and Megan improve game after game. I also saw Nicole come a long way. When she’s in there, we become more tenacious; she battles. Having Abby and Aly [Bori] be so solid in the mid-field, and Christy be the same way in goal, brings it all together.”